13 Picasso works bought for £113m by one London buyer

13 Picasso works bought for £113m by one London buyer

Bulk purchase includes 1937 portrait of lover Marie-Thérèse Walter, sold for nearly £50m

Pablo Picasso’s 1937 portrait of Marie-Thérèse Walter, seen at Sotheby’s, London
Pablo Picasso’s 1937 portrait of Marie-Thérèse Walter, seen at Sotheby’s, London. Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA

A London art adviser has spent more than £110m bulk buying 13 works of art by Picasso on behalf of unnamed wealthy clients.

Harry Smith, executive chairman and managing director of the art advisory firm Gurr Johns, bought four Picasso works, including a 1937 portrait of the artist’s lover Marie-Thérèse Walter for £49.8m, at a Sotheby’s auction in London on Wednesday night.

The purchases came a day after Smith bought nine of the Spanish artist’s works at a Christie’s auction – all the Picasso lots available. In total Smith spent £113m on Picasso pieces this week.

Smith declined to comment on the identity of the client for whom he bought the works but said the art world was in the midst of a fresh love affair with Picasso. Interest in the artist, who died in 1973 at the age of 91, has also been boosted by Tate Modern’s forthcoming show Picasso 1932: Love, Fame, Tragedy, the gallery’s first solo exhibition of the artist’s work.

“Picasso is a giant of 20th century art, and his work appeals to collectors and art lovers from all over the world,” Smith said. “The picture of Marie-Thérèse is a masterpiece portrait by Picasso. Its appeal lies in the subject, the date, the condition, the provenance, and the fact it’s completely fresh to the market having been in the family for so long. The art market has a fairly regular supply of Picassos, but it’s rare to see a painting as special and as fresh to the market as this one.”

The portrait of Marie-Thérèse, called Femme au Béret et à la Robe Quadrillée, was until recently owned by the artist’s estate. It sold for almost £15m more than the £35m estimate. The work was painted just months after Picasso completed his 1937 masterpieces Guernica, and Weeping Woman, which added to the painting’s appeal.

The painting was created at a time of flux in Picasso’s personal life, as his new muse and lover, Dora Maar, was entering the frame. Picasso was quoted as saying of the work: “It must be painful for a girl to see in a painting that she is on the way out.”

Helena Newman, chair of Sotheby’s Europe, said: “The women of Picasso’s life are the fulcrum of his creative genius, unquestionably essential to his creative and intellectual processes – none more universally beloved than his ‘golden muse’ Marie-Thérèse, the star of our painting and the exceptional exhibition opening at the Tate.

“In the winter of 1937, we see the depiction of Marie-Thérèse mature from the voluptuous curves and sleepy, passive suggestiveness, to the woman who gave birth to Picasso’s child. This painting undoubtedly represented what is most desirable for a connoisseur and collector of modern art.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

7 + 3 =